A few years ago, sisters Corrine and Aleisha were pregnant at the same time. Then, almost three months into her pregnancy, Corrine had a miscarriage. By the time she went in for her twelve-week scan, she found out her baby was much smaller than it should have been.
“I’d already lost my baby, but my body hadn’t realised yet. I kept having pregnancy symptoms up until my scan. So, when I got home, I didn’t really know what to do or what to expect. We later found out this is called a missed miscarriage.”
Corrine called her sister and her mum, and the three spent the evening together Googling any information they could find.
“It was a lot of, what happens now? Who do you go to? Does someone look after you? We were in the dark for a lot of it.
“I had my physical miscarriage overnight, and I just didn’t know what was going on with my body. I didn’t know what symptoms were to follow, and with the back pain and the cramping, it was nothing I’d experienced before,” Corrine said. “What we’ve found out as we’ve talked to more and more people is that just like a live birth, every miscarriage is quite different.”
Aleisha, watching her sister go through this, was surprised at the lack of information that women and whānau could access. She decided to make it her mission to bridge the gap and find a way to share what she could find. Aleisha and Corrine’s charity, Miscarriage Matters NZ, launched soon after.
Navigating a lack of protocols, funding, and extended care, Aleisha and Corrine wanted to make sure Miscarriage Matters NZ was a one-stop safe space for women, whānau, and their supporters to understand what a miscarriage was, and how to support it.
“Whether you go full-term or lose your baby partway, there’s a different level of care and information available. Since we started Miscarriage Matters, so much has changed already. There’s a tick box on the blood test form so nurses know you are no longer pregnant, and midwives get funded for one extra appointment now, so they can check up on you to make sure you’re all right.”
The main thing Corrine and Aleisha wanted to do was raise awareness, so anyone going through a miscarriage knew they were not alone. With knowledge comes power, Corrine said.
“The more I learned about it, the less hard I was on myself. I think you blame yourself and when it happened, I had a lot of anger towards myself and my body. Once my sister put up the website, after months and months of making it, I read through the draft, and I cried. I thought, ‘oh, this is everything I wanted to know. Now I know what was happening to my body’.”
Now, with a membership that’s growing and those who come and go when they need it, Miscarriage Matters has formed a wider community that is compassionate and kind and from all walks of life.
The team have made a ‘here if you need us’ contact card sent out in Bountiful packs for expectant mothers, and provided care packages to Canterbury, West Coast, Wellington and the North Shore, with four more regions set to start up before 2024. Every year they hold a Butterfly Fun Run during Baby Loss Awareness Week in October, and soon, the charity will launch a miscarriage pamphlet available for maternal care facilities who don’t already have the resources on it.
Whether it’s at the Butterfly Fun Run, a raffle, in a Facebook group chat, or a working bee, the sisters say it’s awesome to see people feel confident and want to open up.
“You don’t have to have a miscarriage of your own to believe that people should be respected and have dignity while they navigate their journey. It’s communities like ours that show everyone is in it together to help.”